Karla Toledo is a second-year teaching major and writes “Teacher Time” for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
When I think about all the things I hate with a burning passion, the thing that stands at the top of that list continues to be, you guessed it, Christmas.
I’ve hated Christmas for as long as I can remember. There might be some unknown-rooted trauma to the holiday for me, but that’s not the point.
Growing up, I never cared much for the brightly colored paper under the over-decorated tree in the living room. I was grateful for what I was given, but it all just seemed so unnecessary.
When I think about Christmas all that comes to mind is cold hours shoveling snow off your car, just to go to a mall with a bunch of stressed adults dragging their screaming snotty children away from screen displays.
Parents run from toy store to toy store to find the last Tickle-Me-Elmo in existence because every kid just has to have one. Girlfriends holding the most perfect gift that anyone has ever seen, and boyfriends on the opposite side of the mall ripping their hair out because they can’t tell the difference between two perfumes. Spending 100 dollars on just one person when you remember that you have 20 other cousins and that one aunt that if you don’t get the right gift will be on your butt until next December.
In an article on GoBankingRates titled ‘Here’s How Much Americans Spend on Christmas’ by Nicole Spector, Americans alone will spend somewhere between $942-$960 billion on Christmas gifts, which is more money than a school’s fund for an entire year. According to the Education Date Initiative on the U.S. Public Education Spending Statistics, the U.S. spends around $666.9 billion on K-12 schools standing at $13,185 per student. As a person who wants to be a teacher, that doesn’t sound like a lot to me when you consider how many schools there are in the country.
How is it that as a country we spend more on our children for one day than we do for an entire year for their education?
Parents are so prepared to spend nearly their entire paycheck to grant their children toys and gifts that don’t last the whole year. Why spend all this time and effort on silly plastic toys rather than things the family as a whole would actually need?
I’m not saying that I’m against buying gifts for people; on the contrary, I love buying little gifts for my friends and family here and there. However, it’s a completely different conversation when I’m expected to cough up nearly $1,000 for my family for one night out of the year.
I’m being modest when I say that – I have a lot of siblings, and that leads to having to stress for an entire two months about gifts—because Christmas doesn’t just start with December; in my family, you have planned this stuff by November.
Maybe when I was very young I liked the idea of Santa and his reindeer coming to visit me in the night, but as I got older the idea of a man and his friends coming to visit small children in the night by breaking in was no longer as cute as I thought. Taking your child to sit on a random man's lap and he asks if they’ve been naughty or nice, the amount of horrified crying children you hear in malls as their parents take pictures for ‘aesthetic’ reasons is ridiculous. If you wouldn’t let a random man hold your child in his lap any other time of year why is it socially acceptable for 25 days of December?
To make it worse, Christmas isn’t even a Christian holiday, it’s pagan—it’s supposed to be Yule, to celebrate the beginning of a new solar cycle, not a chubby man in a red suit. In an article written by Mindy Haas ‘A Brief History of Christmas’, she talks about how when Christianity started spreading throughout Europe as an attempt to stop pagan celebrations they placed Jesus’s birthday as the 25th of December since Jesus didn’t have a set birthday.
Very often when I make it known that I hate Christmas most people just call me a Grinch, a mean person that is just hating something everyone loves. They would be entirely right, my favorite movie is “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” I don’t really care for the second part, the Grinch makes a statement in the original Jim Carrey version about how everyone's gifts end up in the dump. Every gift you give just ends up in the trash at some point. The sweaters your grandma knitted for you are in the back of your closet right now, aren’t they? The mug you could have sworn your dad loved, is probably going to collect a nice layer of dust by the end of January. The puppy that the lovely couple down the road got for Christmas; well, we all know where Max lived in the movie.
If Christmas was really about love and joy and just seeing your family—who always seems to get on your nerves—maybe I would like the holiday. If I’m being honest, the bright colorful lights that hang from the roofs and trees make my heart flush a bit. The beautiful shimmer that fills the city, and the trees of downtown Muncie this Christmas even made me crack a smile. That was until I saw all the wrapping paper on the floor this Christmas morning, the ground littered with paper, tape, and plastic all of which is put into a plastic bag that eventually goes to the dump.
All that plastic and junk sent away every year from millions of houses all end up somewhere, no one really thinks of that. After the happy glitter paper gets used and everyone’s smiling and full of food, where do the pounds and pounds of waste go? I don’t know where it goes, and I doubt anyone reading does either. Based on accounts from Stanford University, “Americans throw away 25% more trash during Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year,” finding up to a total amount of 25 million extra tons of waste. Each ribbon, card, paper wrap, and box used doesn’t just disappear after you throw it away. Where does it go?
When all is said and done, even if anyone tries to change my mind, even if I’m given the most perfect gift in the world, or family forces me to smile all nice and warm for the holiday. I still, without a doubt, hate Christmas.
Contact Karla Toledo with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Jazzbee626.